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Partners in Shah Deniz II in Talks Over 50% Stake in Nabucco

Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Operators of Shah Deniz II, Azerbaijan’s biggest oilfield, are in talks over acquiring a 50 percent stake in the Nabucco natural gas pipeline project.

An agreement may be reached by Jan. 10, when Nabucco shareholders will meet in Sofia, Stefka Ikonomova, a spokeswoman of the Bulgarian Energy Holding EAD in the capital Sofia, said by phone today. The Shah Deniz partners, which include BP Plc and Statoil ASA, selected in June the Nabucco West pipeline as a potential export route to Europe.

The 1,300-kilometer (810-mile) link backed by the European Union is competing with the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, known as TAP, for rights to export gas from the Shah Deniz field, which may hold 1.2 trillion cubic meters of fuel in Azerbaijan’s part of the Caspian Sea. The EU wants to diversify supplies away from Russia, which provides a quarter of its natural gas.

Shah Deniz operators plan to make the final choice between the competing pipelines before an investment decision on expanding the field is due in mid-2013.

Nabucco West would transport gas from the Turkey-Bulgaria border to the Baumgarten gas hub in Austria via Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. It’s a shorter version of a pipeline that initially would also have crossed Turkey.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Konstantinova in Sofia at ekonstantino@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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